Din Tai Fung

Din Tai Fung, where have you been all of my life? And more importantly, why isn’t there one of you in the Bay Area?

The last time I was in Los Angeles for work, I snuck in a quick dinner with Frank and Megan, gourmands extraordinaire. We braved the LA traffic and headed to Arcadia for Din Tai Fung, a Taiwanese restaurant chain with posts all over the world. (Let’s be clear: “chain” isn’t a dirty word here. This place is good.)

After waiting 495 years, we were seated at one of Arcadia’s Din Tai Fungs. It turns out that the first one was so popular and crowded that the owners open a second location across the street.

Soup dumplings and cucumber salad

It was worth the wait, though. The xiaolongbao, or soup dumplings, arrived first, piping hot and full of meaty, brothy goodness. The spicy-garlicy cucumber appetizer was among my favorites too, a fresh and crunchy interlocutor between bites of dumplings.

Wontons in spicy sauce

The wontons in spicy sauce were delicious too, covered with chili oil and filled with, well, more meat. A small plate of seaweed and bean curd in vinegar dressing helped cut through the richness of the dumplings, fried rice, and noodles that kept on coming.

Seaweed and bean curd in vinegar dressing

We couldn’t finish our meal that evening, but I’ve been hooked ever since. Din Tai Fung is a must if you’re in southern California (or Seattle, where their other US location lies). I’m hoping they’ll open a location in the Bay Area soon, but until then, I’m dreaming of a dumpling paradise down south.

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